Dave Gorman on government e-petitions: Hilarious and perceptive

Modern Life is Goodish: But HM Government e-petitions aren't.

Modern Life is Goodish: But HM Government e-petitions aren’t.

Vox Political is grateful to the Internet entity calling itself Tisme’s Cares (are you male, female or what? It’s hard to tell from the title) for following up on yesterday’s article about HM Government e-petitions with a link to Dave Gorman’s show, Modern Life is Goodish, in which he discusses the same subject with more wit and incisiveness than Yr Obdt Srvt could possibly manage.

The show can be viewed online, in its entirety, here – but it won’t be available forever so here are a few appropriate moments from Mr Gorman’s monologue:

There is a government website that allows you to create an e-petition. It’s supposed to boost political engagement but personally, I have my doubts… as you can see, “e-petitions are an easy, personal way for you to influence government”. Really? I’m not so sure that’s true. I think they’re an easy, personal way for you to pretend that you’re being listened to by the government…

If you get 100,000 signatures, your e-petition could be debated in the House of Commons. Am I the only one who finds the words “could be” leaping out at him? Not “will be” – “could be”, if they feel like it, if they’ve got the time.

When I checked the other day, there were more e-petitions that have been suggested and rejected than have ever been accepted, gone live and run their full course. So just for a bit of fun, I thought I’d show you three different petitions and we’d see what happened with them – see if you could guess which one was rejected. One of them was rejected, the other two weren’t.

One goes with “tax on foreign holidays”. Two goes with “poverty”. Three goes with “tax the rich!” Now the next stage is to write the body of your petition, and there are some guidelines… It tells you, “Keep your petition details short and to the point. You must say what action you want the government to take.”

Petition number one… has gone with this: “The government should have a tiered taxation policy depending on the number of foreign holidays a person takes in a year. If this stops people from holidaying abroad it is not our economy that suffers”. I think we’re all pretty clear on what they want the government to do there.

Petition number two… goes with this: “Poverty. Not really important? Actually it is. Poverty has been increasing imensivedely and we should do our best to eradicated it. It starts with you .at home not taking things forgranted but appriciating it.whats little for us is huge for them.so make it count”. End of petition! I don’t know what they want the government to do; I’ve not idea!

“Tax the rich” has gone with: “Tax the rich! They can afford to pay!”

There you go – three different e-petitions. You’ve seen them in all their glory. My question… is which one do you think was rejected?

I’ve misled you ever so slightly. Only one of these actually made it onto the website and went live. Two of them were rejected.

“Tax on foreign holidays” was rejected because “E-petitions cannot be used to request action on issues that are outside the responsibility of the government.” Who knew that choosing what level of tax we impose on particular activities was outside the responsibility of the government? I thought that’s exactly what they did! But apparently not; that’s the reason that one has been rejected.

“Tax the rich”… has been rejected with the following reason: “It did not have a clear statement explaining what action you want the government to take.” That’s ALL it bloody had! Nothing else! It’s bloody obvious what they want you to do! That one was rejected.

“Poverty”… has gone live; it has been published. There… At any time between now and the 5th June next year, you can join Roberta, who is so far the only signatory, but if 99,999 other people sign it, the Parliamentary authorities are obliged to consider whether or not they should have a debate about whether or not we should try to solve poverty by all “appriciating” things more.

There’s no consistency about the way they run this site. This petition, for example – “Apple should open a store in Leeds” – this one was rejected, and I understand why – with good reason, obviously. Because it says, “E-petitions cannot be used to request action on issues that are outside the responsibility of the government.” That makes sense.

But if that was rejected, why was this – “Open a TGI Fridays restaurant in Hull” – accepted? This was published! “Imagine the amount of tourists we are going to have in the city having recently being voted the city of culture 2017 and we can’t even offer them the sumptuous taste of a Jack Daniels burger! So come on everybody let’s get this out there and bring TGI Fridays to Hull!!!!” As far as I’m concerned, if 100,000 people signed that, they should take the bloody ‘City of Culture’ away from them!

This is basically an online wishing well… You toss your idea in and you won’t even hear a splash but you’ve had your say.

Instant, easy communication isn’t always better.


Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
bringing you the best of the mass media!

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:



  1. Tony Dean October 9, 2014 at 1:42 pm - Reply

    It is this on the government e-petitions home page that angers me:-


    e-petitions will be taking a break on 30 March 2015 as Parliament prepares for the General Election Find out more

  2. jaynel62 October 9, 2014 at 2:33 pm - Reply

    So Sad but…So True :-(

  3. Nigs Cradoc October 9, 2014 at 5:39 pm - Reply

    Very good piece – and, unfortunately, so true

  4. casalealex October 9, 2014 at 6:54 pm - Reply

    i do sign lots of petitions, and find that some have been successful, a few very successful.
    These have been from such groups as 38Dregrees, change org, avaaz org, etc. I have also signed a number of gov e-petitions, and although I too noted “could be debated”, nevertheless, I carried on signing those which I feel passionate about.
    Some did reach, and even greatly surpassed the 100,000 mark. Some have been debated in Parliament, a very few have had results. However, there are many that have been rejected, even though they reached the target.
    Even so, I still hope that, at least someone in the government makes note of the discontent of the signees, (but I will not hold my breath)!
    This posting has made me decide not to sign any more gov e-petitions, but keep with the others, who actually go out of their way to get their petitions recognised, and acted upon.

    • Mike Sivier October 9, 2014 at 7:05 pm - Reply

      Well exactly – the point of my first post was that the ‘HM Government’ e-petitions site wasn’t worth visiting and that other sites were far more effective at bringing about real change.

  5. Tisme's Cares October 10, 2014 at 8:23 am - Reply

    Hello Mike – I’m a lady! LOL I’m a full-time unpaid carer for my severely disabled son (hence the fact of my nom-de-plume that Tisme’s Cares ;) )

    So glad you saw this!

    Dave Gorman nailed it, eh?

    • Mike Sivier October 10, 2014 at 10:19 am - Reply

      Totally! For the information of other readers: I left out a lot because it focused on the weirdness of some of the petitions (which is a talking-point in itself), so it’s well worth watching the show while it’s still available.

Leave A Comment